Passage of time dims a few of our faculties, so the account of school life is given only in tit-bits. The up’s and down’s of classroom relationships, its shifting alliances and then, the agony of exams. The time we were agog with the exam results with a palpitating heart and the volley of questions by “well-wishers” after the results.
Morning rituals would go through at great speed. Each day, we would wake up with a new resolve. Escorting us (siblings) back and forth to school was our grandfather’s chief occupation. Traffic used to be thin in those days. Few buses and scooters churning up dust and the bicycles, way too many. We would walk past the rows of banyan trees, with its boughs spreading along. (As for the rows of banyan trees, they are all razed now and noticing this lately, reminds of a lesson back in school – “Rip Van Winkle”)
In the mornings, we set out on a slow pace, enjoying all the roadside spectacle. When grandpa stopped to chat with acquaintances, we too halted a while with a stop here and a stop there… When he resumed, we too would resume our course and troop along. But the evenings saw us walk on a rather brisk note without any pauses, as grandpa had to catch up with his “6 o’clock” group at his usual haunt, the “Nehru maidan”, for the fear of being marked absent in the attendance register by his bald and toothless friends!
Once in class, we would crane our necks out and would be slunk back to our seats when the teacher entered and called the roll. Since one chapter had a lesson “Late Kate”, the name was tagged to all the late arrivals (girls). It was a co-ed school. As for the seating arrangements, all the “Gullivers” were allotted the last rows and the “Lilliputs” occupied the front rows. The in-betweens managed the middle ones.
Resolutions made at the beginning of the year vanished without a trace at the year’s end. In class, we would speak without a pause. Most of the things were totally out of the syllabus like movies, film stars and the weather being an ever-obliging topic when our books receded in the backyard. Whenever we wanted holidays, nature came to our rescue. At times, the incessant rains were reasons enough for the school to declare a holiday.
During exams, the school chapel was packed to the brim, where all of us knelt down seeking divine intervention, irrespective of our religion. At the end of the day, the noise of the school breaking up enlivened the air, when we rushed out with gusto. Whenever we were asked to collect funds from school, we would go around neighbourhood, rattling the money box and when unwary victims were sighted, we held them in thrall.
Time for the second school – high school to begin with. Scores of new faces. A massive classroom, where some of the tutors were known by the names they were entitled to!
The name that stood apart was the “Blue-Green algae”, which referred to a male tutor. At first, I couldn’t fathom the reason behind the queer name. Was he a biology teacher? I had to bottle up my confusions. A little research made later revealed that it was an honour bestowed upon him for the “blue” shirt and the “green” trousers he fancied more and more often!!! Wondering if a penchant for a certain attire could earn you with such a fine tag!!!
Well, well….individual tastes differ…
Time flew by, and as the swan-song ended, all we got was a black and white copy of our school magazine, with our class photograph etched in it, to preserve for years to come…